The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum condemns the detention of Levon Barseghyan, Chairman of the Board of the Gyumri Journalists Club „Asbarez”, by the Armenian authorities after making a public speech in Yerevan, in which he criticised the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.

The apparent reason for his detention is ludicrous. The authorities claim that a penknife was found on his person.

The Steering Committee (SC) also condemns his treatment while in detention (lack of food and water, as well as  access to bathroom facilities), which led to the deterioration of his state of health and the need to call an ambulance.

Mr Barseghyan is a respected member of the Civil Society Forum and the way he is treated is a test case of Armenia’s commitment to European values and to good relations with the European Union.

There is a reason to believe that many other Armenian citizens have been detained in Yerevan in recent days in the wake of the attack on the Erebuni police station. The grounds for these arrests may be as preposterous as that of Mr Barseghyan.

The SC urges the Armenian authorities to release Levon Barseghyan and all other people unlawfully detained only because they exercised the constitutional freedoms of assembly, expression and speech. All officials who abused their power should be held accountable.

The Steering Committee calls on the European Union to take all possible steps to ensure that the Armenian authorities release Levon Barseghyan and all the people detained on political grounds, and that an impartial investigation of the actions by the police is conducted.

Steering Committee Statement